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  • 6 April 2024
  • 2 months

Financial Anxiety On the Rise in Quebec

Emily Fournier

Marketing and Communications Manager

If title-holding alcohol consumption was no indication, new findings have revealed the truth that most Quebecers unfortunately already know: that theirs is the most-stressed province in Canada.

According to the survey, nearly a quarter of Quebecers have great “perceived stress” compared to less than a fifth of all Canadians. Some of this stress can be attributed to career or academic anxieties; some is likely due to ongoing political and social changes. But the bulk of Quebecers’ stress can best be categorized as “financial” stress.

In fact, according to a recent measure of financial anxiety conducted by Centraide of Greater Montreal, a whopping 86 percent of Quebecers are experiencing financial anxiety—nearly half of which is described as “moderate” to “extreme.” Among the leading causes for concern, food insecurity reigns supreme, followed by housing affordability, educational costs, and everyday expenses, as a growing portion of the population struggles to make ends meet amidst a backdrop of slow-to-go inflation, a growing cost of living, housing crisis, and rising unemployment rates.

Suffice it to say, all this stress is wreaking havoc on Quebecers’ health and wellbeing; as a matter of fact, it’s even further worsening their financial wellbeing, as credit card debt has reached an all-time-high of $113.4 billion across Canada (a 16 percent increase from the previous year) as nearly a third take on new debt to “keep their head above rising waters.” But in addition to that, survey findings reveal a consistent correlation between financial woes and higher rates of anxiety, sleep disturbances, trouble concentrating, poor work performance, absenteeism, relationship strain, and what some experts are calling “inflation isolation,” or the loneliness that many are experiencing because of their financial situation, as they pass on spending time with family, friends, and coworkers because they can’t afford to.

As a result, recent polls show that nearly two-thirds of Canadian workers claim that financial stress has had a negative impact on their social wellbeing, while more than half say that their stress has been felt by their loved ones. What’s interesting to note, however, is that while these statistics may suggest that one’s friends and family are “caught up” in their financial stress, the reality is that they’re often completely unaware of what their loved one is going through, as one in three Canadians feel ashamed of their financial situation, according to a new report from Coast Capital, and are afraid to open up to their friends, family, colleagues, or even to a professional advisor about it.

How A Holistic Wellbeing Solutions Provider Can Help

That being said, in order to address rising financial anxiety in the workplace, it’s important for employers to note that the problem isn’t just a financial one, but a psychosocial one. Insecurity, social isolation, low adaptability, and ignorance all play just as great of a role as the country’s economic position.

To that end, getting employees “back on track” not only means improving their financial prospects, but their social and emotional capabilities as well. To start, in order to reduce the prevalence of financial anxiety in the workplace, employees need to let go of a few prominent but debilitating assumptions:

  1. That their financial situation is entirely their fault: It’s not, and the sooner they understand the various factors influencing their finances, the better they’ll be at managing their money for the long term.
  2. That they can’t ask for help or “burden” others by taking about their stress: They absolutely can, and should! As Megan Rafuse, a registered social worker and psychotherapist, attests: “The best thing that we can do for ourselves is to treat financial stress in the same way you would treat any other stress. Ask for support, talk to people you trust, seek professional help, and don’t shame yourself.” The odds that one’s friends or loved ones have ever been in a similar situation are all but certain, and it’s quite possible that they could offer valuable insights or even help the person in developing better money habits. Likewise, financial advising is a profession for a reason: advisors are there to help people solve their financial problems.
  3. That there’s nothing they can do about their situation: There’s in fact a lot that a person can do to improve their financial position, and it doesn’t all have to do with financial habits either: adopting a better mindset and meaningful goal setting are but just two examples of other healthy habits that individuals can strive toward to improve their financial outlook.

Breaking free from these assumptions—or internalizing and acting on their alternative truths—isn’t always easy, which is where holistic wellbeing providers can step in and help.

Through in-the-moment support from a culturally competent counselor or clinician, professionals can help individuals:

  • Identify the root causes of their financial strain
  • Discern which of those causes are in their control and thus in their power to change (i.e., budgeting, saving habits, investment decisions, financial and tax planning)
  • Make peace with what is out of their control (i.e., market conditions, inflation, government policies, disasters or emergencies)
  • Build better coping mechanisms for dealing with stress, anxiety, and uncertainty (e.g., mindfulness exercises, breathing techniques, self-based CBT interventions)

With practical support services that include financial, legal, and loan assistance, as well as life coaching, individuals can get in touch with expert consultants who can:

  • Provide support, educational resources, and other helpful materials on a wide range of financial topics, including: bankruptcy and foreclosure prevention; budgeting and financial planning; credit reporting; debt reduction and management; estate planning; housing education and purchasing; and long-term goal setting
  • Provide references for additional, localized support services or resources in their area based on their needs, including cost, distance, availability, and topic of interest
  • Guide individuals toward better decision-making including cutting unnecessary expenses, restructuring monthly budget plans, and improving debt repayment plans
  • Help them to establish a personal vision, set better goals, and create an action plan
  • Validate and normalize the experience of financial strain, reducing stigma and insecurity and improving individuals’ relationships with those around them

And finally, thanks to their access to various physical and emotional wellness services, individuals can reap the benefits of working with accredited coaches who can push them to build better lifestyle habits including:

  • Healthy eating
  • Exercising
  • Getting proper sleep
  • Avoiding harmful substances
  • Managing stress
  • Taking time to decompress
  • Spending time with others*
  • Spending time in nature

All of which can improve their outlook on life and inspire hope for the future—key ingredients essential for building strong money habits and maintaining a stable financial position.

As we head further into 2024, experts caution that there’s still a lot of uncertainty ahead. While getting out of a financial rut is often a slow-moving process, it doesn’t mean the situation is hopeless. With the tips, tools, and resources, provided by a holistic wellbeing solutions provider, individuals can unlock their potential for improving not just their financial health, but their social, emotional, and behavior health—creating a better and more sustainable life for themselves to last through good times, and bad, for years to come.

Workplace Options helps employees balance their work, family, and personal needs to become healthier, happier, and more productive, both personally and professionally. The company’s world-class employee support, effectiveness, and wellbeing services provide information, resources, referrals, and consultation on a variety of issues ranging from dependent care and stress management to clinical services and wellness programs. Contact us to learn more. 

This content is intended for general information only. It does not provide specific direction, advice, or recommendations. You may wish to contact an appropriate professional for questions concerning your particular situation.

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